IN 2017 THE TRADES COUNCIL HAS GIVEN ITS SUPPORT TO MANY KEY DISPUTES

EHRC over threats to jobs and services

Support for the NHS - including the March 4 demonstration

Support for RMT Southern guards

Support for PCS HMRC & DWP members over jobs and services


 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 


action on June 5 at Caxton House - TC President Dan Ingreji (centre)


DEATH OF VIC TURNER

We have to report the death on 30/12/12 of long time friend and comrade of the Trades Council VIC TURNER.

OBITUARY OF VIC TURNER

3/10/27 – 30/12/12

 

The death of Vic Turner, as 2012 ended, brought the curtain down on a very special life. Vic was a Londoner, an East Ender, born at Custom House in 1927, and who lived his whole life in the area. His parents were William (a docker) and Emma Turner. He was the youngest of 5 boys and 2 girls. He married Jean ( nee Agass ) in Feb 1951. She died 18/3/1973.

He was told to join the union the day he started work in the docks with his father and brothers.

He was a rank and file activist, becoming a steward in the Royal Group and was a major influence in the National Joint Ports Shop Stewards Committee. The long hard battles of dockers to end casualization and to get good terms and conditions created a strong tradition of solidarity and industrial action at the sharp end.

 Vic was part of the process that had seen Harry Watson, Jack Dash and many others build up the dockers strength. Vic was a proud member of the TGWU (becoming UNITE) and had a reputation of trust during the differences between the white and blue unions and different sections in the docks. He was particularly proud of the traditions built up in the Royal Group as he worked with stewards such as Bernie Steer, Micky Fenn and Tony Merrick.  Vic was also a member of the Communist Party.

This came to a head as dockers took on the employers using containerisation to attack  terms and conditions. It was as the ruling class was trying to shackle unions. Labour had tried  with In Place of Strife  then the 1970 Tory Government imposed the Industrial Relations Act. This met massive opposition along with other Tory policies with battles at Upper Clyde Shipbuilders, occupations in engineering & by the Fakenham women, and miners and engineers uniting at Saltley Gates. Dockers had played a key part. Vic spoke of organising support for  UCS, for miners children during disputes, of attending joint meetings of stewards from different industries and the Liaison Committee in Defence of Trade Unions. They also maintained the tradition of support for dockers in others countries when ships and cargos would be blacked; crews fighting ship owners or stopping materials destined for factories where disputes were going on – the solidarity action of the strong helping the weak which so terrifies the employing class.

This was the bedrock when the dockers dispute came to the fore in 1970-2. Dockers picketed container depots outside the docks. The employers used the new political court - National Industrial Relations Court  - getting injunctions against the picketing. The dockers continued their action. This culminated in the arrest (July 1972) of shop stewards – Vic Turner, Bernie Steer, Tony Merrick, Derek Watkins and Connie Clancy.

As the 5 sat in Pentonville, workers started walking out across Britain. Docks ground to a halt, the print started to close down, car & engineering factories, building sites shut down. A rank and file general strike was starting. The massive show of workers strength forced the release of the 5.  Pentonville had lit a beacon for workers resistance as had Tolpuddle, the Matchgirls, the dockers’ penny and Red Clydeside.

Vic was part of the continuing battle for the dockers, past the Aldington Report, which went on for another 15 years. The pressures (from speculators, shipping & dock companies and their manipulation of new working methods) were formidable and it is now often presented as an “inevitable” process. This was wrong and Vic and the stewards saw there was an alternative incorporating technical changes, employing dockers, meeting environmental concerns by using river transport and using gains in available dockland space for ordinary Londoners.

 

Vic carried on this battle after losing his job as a docker as Royal Group closed down and becoming a Newham council worker. Stood as a Labour councillor, working closely with his local constituents, elected for Beamerside ward in 1984 and 1997/8 became Mayor of Newham. Humbled and inspired by the work of many local organisations, he also brought a different approach to the mayoralty, as when Harry Watson, a dockers leader, died and the official   limousine was filled with dockers for the funeral in Southend.

 

Elected President of the United Campaign the Repeal of Anti-union Laws, he was always willing to talk to young trade unionists and a analytical interest in political developments. He came from the strong London tradition of wanting to remain amongst fellow workers and work at a rank and file level.

 

His last main meeting was the July 2012 40th Pentonville Anniversary on the Isle of Dogs speaking beside Tony Merrick and Derek Watkins. He had supported strongly this annual event. At it he said “It’s a fight we have to continue, it doesn’t depend on any individuals – it’s about all of us”.  Vic’s life shows the role of some individuals can be very important.

 

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The TC has celebrated the famous Pentonville 5 events since 1977. This recognises the massive working class victory in forcing the release of 5 dockers imprisoned for trade union activities by the then Tory anti-union laws. Mass strike action across the country forced the release on July 26 1972.

 

 

© 2017 contact: 07818 421 327 email: [email protected] address: CLWTC, Ruskin House, 23 Coombe Road, CRO 1BD